Charles Darwin famously said, it’s not the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. If ever there was a time to test your mettle against that pronouncement, that time is now.
Just ask Rose Ellen Moore, proprietor with her husband, Clayton, of RC Moore Vintage in Hellertown.
She is also author of the new book, “I Wanna Live Forever,” debuting in the number one spot in fashion on Amazon in February.
“We went from anticipating a very strong prom, Kentucky Derby, and wedding season to leaving the shop’s lights on at night so the local police could look in,” says Rose. “And my book just came out. We planned several events to launch it, and we were just immediately locked down.”
Rose and Clayton spent one day assessing their situation and immediately pivoted to live events on Facebook and Instagram to show their wares.
“The response has been very good,” Rose says. “People tune in live or they can watch it later. I usually have a theme of say sexy lingerie, or ‘60s and ‘70s gowns and dresses. We have music, tell stories and there’s plenty of bubbly.” She laughs. “I assume our viewers are drinking champagne because Clayton and I certainly are!”
It’s Rose’s infectious laugh and boisterous personality that make shopping live online for vintage clothes so entertaining. That and the stories. Every piece of clothing has a story.
“That’s what my book’s about,” Rose says. “Stories about going to estate sales and acquiring vintage fashion. Stories about who wore the dress and to what event. Every time I pick up a piece of clothing it practically shouts its story at me, wanting to be heard.
“There was this woman, her husband was a judge, and she brought in a velvet and polka dot suit. She said, ‘When my husband finds out I’ve sold this he will kill me, but I’m sick of hearing how he’s gonna fit in this suit again. It’s never going to happen. He’s 61 and his belly looks like he’s in the third trimester. Anyway, do you think this is appropriate for a judge?’
“I had to agree it wasn’t, but boy, that judge must have had some good times in that suit to want to keep it!”
Rose and Clayton make sure every garment they acquire is cleaned and repaired to its original condition before they sell it. “Sometimes, we can’t perform that miracle, but if I have it already, it means I’ve fallen in love with the fabric or the trim or the sleeve: some detail that I can reuse in a new creation.”
One of the funniest stories in the book is Rose and Clayton, acting on a hot tip that a drag house in upstate New York was being demolished and arriving a half hour before the wrecking ball, running into the house and emerging 15 minutes later to the applause of the wrecking crew with top hats on their heads, boas around their necks, and garbage bags of ball gowns, sequins and beads. “I’m using some of those beads on this duster,” Rose says, displaying a garment that she’s almost finished beading.
Rose uses collars, buttons, beading, sequins, silk lining from her finds to custom create hats and fascinators for special occasions. “Sometimes, people come in the shop and say they don’t have an occasion for a hat, and I say, ‘create the occasion! Up the fun in your life.”
She has created lots of hats for women and men attending Kentucky Derby parties. “But that isn’t happening this year! Unless they can find some way to do it on Zoom. You know what? I think they will. Life just has to go on.”
Rose’s bawdy sense of humor and incredible sense of style come through in all her creations. And she’s a born performer. It’s what makes her daily shows on Instagram and Facebook such fun.
Her clients include legendary 1960s model, Barbara Flood, and Instagram influencers Katie Jane Hughes and Gabi Demartino who held a meet-and-greet at RC Moore Vintage last summer. Gabi says Rose has been “a life coach and mentor for the past six years. She’s helped me become who I am.”
Besides her daily shows at 7 o’clock on Instagram and Facebook, Rose is getting invitations ready for a special show featuring boxes of to-die-for beaded silk dresses from the 1920s. “Clayton will have to wear a tux to pour the champagne. Especially now when no one is going out, he likes the excuse to dress up.” She pauses and flashes her magnificent smile, “But don’t we all.”
“I Wanna Live Forever” by RC Moore is $25 at Amazon.com and from Blue Heron Book Works. Blue Heron Book Works, is an independent small press founded by novelist Bathsheba Monk. The main focus is literary memoirs, but the publisher will also consider fiction if it is in a series. Books are published as e-books and print-on-demand editions.
Reach Rose Moore online at rcmoorevintage.com.
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Facebook: RCMoore Vintage
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